Potty Training with Pottywise

Potty Training with Pottywise

On that first night Kye used the potty (age 19 months) I went straight for my Pottywise book.

Here is what it says are the signs to look for of readiness in your child before you begin on the potty training adventure (and what signs Kye shows or doesn’t)

Signs Your Child is Ready to Potty Train

  • stays dry for two or more hours at a time (sometimes?)
  • has regular bowl movements (regular as in ALL the time!)
  • wakes up from naps dry (occasionally he’d do this)
  • stops an activity when going in diaper (only when it was poop)
  • stands a certain way and holds onto diaper while eliminates (makes a certain face for pooping)
  • is interested in “big kid” training pants (he’s interested in anything “big kid” but didn’t know such type of pants existed)
  • wants to imitate parents or older siblings using the toilet (yes!)
  • able to understand and follow simple directions (yes)
  • can sit and play quietly for about 5 min (how about 40 min?)
  • can put toys and other possessions where they belong on his/her own (yup!)
  • can dress and undress self (nope, will help some but can’t do it on own at all)
  • has name for urine and bowel movements (nope!)

When You Should NOT Start Potty Training

Here are the times the book recommends not to start potty training:

  • you or your child is sick or recovering from illness (he’s getting in his canine teeth which totally counts as sickness)
  • you are about to move or have just completed a major move (umm…slightly!)
  • you are in any relational transition, such as the death of a loved one (thankfully, no)
  • you are in the midst of an unresolved family crisis (nope, not currently!)
  • you are having house guests for an extended period (I think living with Mom totally counts…it’s pretty extended of a time period)
  • Mom is in the early months of pregnancy (sad for you, I know, but this is a no)
potty training using the pottywise method

When to Start Potty Training

  • you are able to set aside the time needed to make potty training a priority (I was NOT prepared to do this but in my world, my parenting takes top priority over pretty much everything so I’ve re-worked things to make sure this is first)
  • you have the emotional and practical support of your spouse (yup, he’s supportive but he’s also gone right now every week working so he’s not too present)
  • you are not in a major house transition, job transfer, or renovation process (hmmm…I’m stressed pretty much all the time about our “major house transition” and Mom’s “job transfer”)

Obviously, based on the book, this wasn’t the ideal timing for us to do this.

However, KYE wanted to! And I didn’t want to be the one to make him not do something so big that he wanted to do.

I would feel very guilty putting that kid back in diapers when he so obviously wants to be the “big boy” and use the potty.

So even though I may have been breaking the rules on starting now, now is when we started 🙂

What to Purchase for Potty Training:

The book has recommendations on things but here is what I ended up getting and why:

Potty Chair

At first I never wanted an actual potty chair that I’d have to dump and clean but it’s WONDERFUL as Kye is much more comfortable on it than he is a big toilet.

It’s also usefully because I can actually TELL he’s gone since there isn’t any water in it to hide his pee and you can hear as he goes!

And actually the process of dumping and flushing gives an opportunity for additional praise for him.

I got the Baby Bjorn potty chair with the high back and LOVE it!!!

Potty Seat

I also did a potty seat and we have the chair in Mom’s bathroom (easier access) and the seat in our bathroom since he doesn’t use it as often.

My plan for the new house is the chair downstairs and the seat up.

I think both are useful and good to have and I like using both interchangeably as in public we don’t have the chair and I don’t want him to fear to go on a seat.

I got the Babybjorn toilet trainer and it fits wonderfully and the splash guard works great.

Big Kid Underwear

I got fun big boy underpants with Mickey on them (I’ve found the size 2t fits best for this age).

Stock UP because that way you’re not having to do a bunch of laundry on top of potty training 😉

I also ordered some Gerber training pants but honestly am not crazy about them.

They aren’t as “cool looking” as the “big boy” ones and they are basically just underwear with a thicker section where an accident may occur.

While the thicker thing is a nice idea in theory, I want to know if my kid has an accident so I like the thinner cotton so I can easily feel and/or see it right when it happens!

We did buy one pack of pull-ups but literally used 3 of them and he didn’t even have an accident in them.

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Deciding to Poop Train or Pee Train First

The book talks about training for poop first or pee first and debates which is better to tackle first and why.

I went with both at once since when Kye went in the potty, he did both. I don’t really fully understand how someone would train for just one of them?

If you’ve been reading this blog of mine for awhile then you know I’m not big on slow transitions.

When I switched Kye from a bottle to a cup I decided he was using a cup and so he didn’t drink unless it was from a cup and we never looked back.

That’s how I’ve viewed the potty training thing.

He now wears big boy underwear and we’re not going back to diapers.

Night and Nap Training

Pottywise discusses how young children don’t have large enough bladders to physically hold their duty through nighttime and naps so I do still use my leftover diapers for those times for now.

Kye wakes up from most naps dry and has even woken up several mornings dry, and since we started training he’s only pooped once during any sleep time.

Once I run out of diapers I’ll probably switch him to underwear for naps and see how it goes, but I think night time will be awhile.

—–> You can read how I handle nap and night training here

Using Pottywise for Potty Training

Pottywise is not some quick-fix book promising you that your kid will be 100% using the toilet in a set amount of time.

The book discusses different training strategies based on several different lengths of time. I, of course, chose the progressive method which is typically a 4 day training technique.

I did not take four days, I took longer, but my child is also much younger than the typical training toddler and I didn’t have the needed supplies when he started using the potty so I was delayed.

Here’s the steps for the Progressive Potty Training Method:

Step 1: Clear calendar for 1-4 days to give focused attention to potty training, minimizing unnecessary interruptions (My plan was Wed Nov 3-Sat Nov 6th. I didn’t go to church Wed night. Kye and I didn’t leave the house during that time period and by Sunday we were able to go to church with him in underwear and him make it through class then through service without any accidents, which was my goal!)

Step 2: Create thirst through appropriate snacks and fun liquids (I didn’t really focus on this. Mrs. Charlotte bought him some Cars take and toss cups and I let him use those as his “special” cups since he was a big boy and all but I don’t know if it helped much.

He was actually having a lot of loose stools b/c teething and he had severe diaper rash so I think those things helped him to want to use the potty over sitting in his own poop.)

Step 3: Use a doll with your toddler. Have them put underwear on the doll, offer a drink to the doll, then in a few min see if the doll is dry and reward the doll with a small treat for staying “dry and clean.”

Then wait a few min and sit the doll on the potty, praise doll for using the potty and go through clean-up routine with the doll, then offer doll another reward for using the potty and staying dry and clean. (I totally did this once. We used Kye’s dress-me pirate doll Mom got him for Easter and stuck the underwear on him and went through the steps. Kye didn’t care. I think he already understood the concept of using the potty and just didn’t need a doll spelling it out for him, but I see how it’d be helpful for fearful children)

Step 4: Ask toddler to check for dryness (I say “are you dry and clean?” and have taught Kye to feel himself – kinda a dangerous thing to teach a boy, I know – and he nods yes but I also check in case he’s lying.)

Step 5: Offer him a reward for staying dry and clean (that’s what makes Pottywise different than everything else, it focuses on the WHY instead of the HOW. Why do you want your kid potty trained? So they stay dry and clean right? So that’s the focus…yes, using the potty is vital but the bigger deal is the dry and clean part!)

Step 6: Have toddler sit on the potty while you hold a double treat in your hands and when they go praise them for staying dry and clean and using the potty (this does work…but Kye quickly got beyond any need for treats at all!)

Step 7: Follow-up during the next several days by asking “are your pants dry and clean?” Give enthusiastic praise when they are and reward them.

Kye’s “doll”

We spent a LOT of time around the toilet for those days!

When we went to Walmart to buy the big boy underwear I bought a HUGE bag of M&Ms.

I assumed that we would be using them all pretty quickly with the training process.

Everything I’ve ever read or seen on tv seems like everyone uses M&Ms for the potty training reward.

Well, my child did love them…but it turns out he takes after his mom and saviors everything.

I’ve never been the type of person to wear a brand new outfit the day after I got it. I like to save my outfits for special occasions.

Our pantry looks like it’s stocked up for a natural disaster.

I have enough food to last MONTHS simply because I like to save stuff.

It’s just a little quirk about me that I guess is genetic b/c Kye is the same way.

I would give him ONE M&M and he’d still have it an hour later.

He would suck on it and play with it and just take entirely too long to eat it…which wouldn’t be a problem if they melted in your mouth and not in your hand like they advertise. But they don’t. And they stain.

So we quit doing the M&Ms and instead bought gummy bears (b/c Kye LOVES fruit snacks and loves his morning gummy vitamin!). They have worked GREAT. He still takes a long time to eat them but they don’t stain and if the dog eats it on accident it won’t kill him 🙂

watching a little football and enjoying his treat

making that M&M last and last and last

I did a little journaling during my early training with him and I plan on sharing that soon.

I really did mostly follow all the Pottywise ideas…I think the hard thing for me was that I searched and searched but couldn’t find any examples of kids who just started using the potty on their own without fear at such a young age.

It seems like EVERY kid is typically afraid to use the potty and only feel comfortable using it in their pants b/c that’s what they are used to with diapers.

It also seems like kids who do randomly decide on their own to go, and do it consistently, are much older and have typically had some prior failed potty training experience.

I like examples and it was tough for me not to have one, but at church that Sunday I did have a lady say her son was about Kye’s age and he was a first born and he potty trained himself and was just ready to do it sooner than she expected.

That made me feel SO much better because I was worried since I didn’t see examples similar to our situation, that Kye and I were doomed to fail at this whole thing.

That mom gave me hope and confidence that this really is LEGIT!!!

I did read somewhere that the longer they spend on the potty the more likely they are to go.

We don’t really have an issue with Kye going but I like him to have some entertainment while he’s there.

Mom had this little basket in her bathroom already so we put a book about the potty (which is the same one my mom used with us as kids – Once upon a Potty), a few toys, and some Christmas toy catalogs.

He makes me think of my Dad every time he reads on the toilet, don’t all dads do their daily reading there?

In most areas of parenting, I’ve stuck to almost exactly what the Babywise series of books has recommended.

This is the first time where I feel like I followed the book, but not as strictly as I normally would.

I do think the book is wonderful and I do think everyone should own a copy. It’s got a lot of great tips in it but for me the biggest help was the reminder of the why.

I really do focus more on Kye being dry and clean than I do on him using the potty and I see it paying off because when he does have an accident he says how yucky it is for his big boy pants to be dirty and he acts upset that his pants are not dry and clean.

I focus on the “why” (staying dry and clean) and so far the “how” (by using the potty) is coming along great!!!

—–> Looking for more potty training tips? Be sure to read this post! 

—–> Shop All My Potty Gear Recommendations Here!


  1. Raina
    December 29, 2012 / 3:59 am

    Thanks so much for writing this! Your parenting style sounds like mine; I got rid of my kids' sippy cups cold turkey, as you did. I am planning to try this with my daughter in two weeks, so I was glad to read of your experience with Pottywise. Thanks again!

  2. August 1, 2019 / 11:12 pm

    I didn’t catch how old he was during this time? We are thinking of starting soon with our 26 month old doing the Pottywise method!

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